"Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way." -Abraham Lincoln

A lot of people think they need to work out two hours a day in order to get fit and healthy. We put so much pressure on ourselves that failure is inevitable.

A workout should fit into your lifestyle and the number of days and time spent working out should be realistic. Consistency and shorter workouts are the keys to this game.

We've put together some helpful tips to make your workouts shorter, but just as effective. If your goal is to create a minimal fitness plan, all you need is 30 minutes a few days a week.

Short workouts are not only time effective, they also produce a positive hormonal state. Many studies show that long workouts produce a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that strips muscle and places high levels of stress on the body, thereby creating an unhealthy state.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Circuit training:

    Circuit training is simply performing one exercise for each muscle group without rest. For example, do a leg exercise for 12 reps, followed by chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and abs. Rest for 60 seconds and repeat for two to three more sets or until you reach the 20 or 30 minute time limit. It’s a great way to burn fat and limit workout time.
  • Design a split routine:

    You don't necessarily need to work every major muscle group in each workout. One day, work only your upper body for 20 minutes and finish with 10 minutes of cardio. The next workout, do lower body and finish with 10 to 15 minutes of cardio. This also helps you to achieve a 48-hour rest period between training each body part.
  • Perform weights and cardio on separate days:

    One day focus only on cardio for 20 to 30 minutes, the next day weight train for 20 to 30 minutes. A few days later, try yoga or Pilates for 30 minutes. It’s an excellent way to balance your routine and stay interested.
  • Split your DVD workout:

    Lots of people love to exercise using dance and aerobic workout DVDs. Who says you have to do it all in one session? Split the tape into two days (assuming it’s an hour-long tape) and slightly increase your intensity level each day. You’ll still get great results.
  • Weight/cardio mix:

    One short duration workout method that works well is to perform one weight training exercise followed by three minutes of cardio. Then, go back to a weight training movement, followed by three minutes of a new cardio exercise. Keep repeating without rest until you achieve your 20 to 30 minute goal.

Walk your way to fitness

Walk briskly at lunchtime three days per week for 30 minutes. Don’t get caught up in the fact that it’s not enough. We’re looking for consistency, which will ultimately help you to lose fat and get fit.

No time for a 30-minute walk at lunch? Split your workout into two separate times during the day. Walk in the morning for 15 minutes, and then again at lunch or right after work. Studies show that it’s just as effective as one 30-minute session. You might want to invest in some rain-gear if you are going to follow through on your walking plan, so rain can never be an excuse.